A refreshing summer salad that doubles as a meal is not complicated but tastes as if it is.
4-5 large Japanese eggplants
1 medium green or red bell pepper, diced
1 medium red or yellow onion, minced
2-3 cloves fresh garlic, crushed
4-5 tablespoons olive oil
Balsamic vinegar to taste
2 tablespoons white or brown sugar
Finely chopped Italian parsley (about 1 cup)
Dried or fresh basil and oregano to taste
Sea salt and black or red pepper to taste
Lemon juice, fresh chopped mint and olive oil
Finely chopped walnuts and golden raisins
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Puncture eggplants with a fork and place on a baking sheet. Bake eggplants for about 1 1/2 hours or until soft, turning occasionally. Cool eggplant completely, peel, dice and set aside in a bowl.
In another bowl, mix together the bell peppers, onions, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, sugar, parsley, basil, oregano, salt and pepper to taste. Pour the marinade over the diced eggplant and stir to coat well.
Add fresh lemon juice and mint to taste. Cover and refrigerate for 2-3 hours before serving. Add more lemon juice, mint or olive oil to taste. Top with finely chopped walnuts and golden raisins, if desired, before serving.
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Christine Vartanian Datian is a native of Fresno, California and lives in Las Vegas. She has worked in advertising, marketing, and government subcontracting, and served as a copywriter and technical writer. She is a graduate of California State University, Fresno (CSUF), and holds a Master of Arts Degree (MA) in Journalism. She has been published in Sunset and Cooking Light magazines.